Speaker: Vasko Belovski
The majority of Seventh Day Adventists today have come to believe that the understanding of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit had evolved throughout the years, particularly after the year 1898. Jerry Moon, a well known Trinitarian theologian states that the period from 1898 to 1913 saw an almost complete reversal of Adventist thinking about the Trinity. The publication of Ellen White’s Desire of Ages in 1898, became the continental divide for the Adventist understanding of the Trinity.
In other words, it was the publishing of the Desire of Ages that God used in order to help his faithful people to come to the understanding that he was a Trinity of three co-eternal persons. Though Ellen White has never referred to God as one God in three persons, many have indeed used several statements from the Desire of Ages to insinuate that Ellen White had been given new light on the subject of who God is at the publication of this book. Most of the statements regularly quoted from the Desire of Ages are in reference to the Holy Spirit being presented as the third person of the Godhead, and use to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is an individual, like the Father and the Son.
However, if it were true that these statements were penned by Ellen White in order to support a paradigm shift in the understanding of God among Adventists, then we would have to conclude that prior to the publishing of the Desire of Ages in the late 1900s, Ellen White, as well as the rest of the leading ministers in the church, had never received proper light from God, upon this very subject, for God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and he never changes nor contradicts himself. Nevertheless, when we examine history, we see that God had not only revealed himself as the Almighty, the Father of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ but had in fact corrected different erroneous views with respect to the identity of the Holy Spirit years before 1898.
A primary example of this took place in the year 1891. When a brother by the last name Chapman, corresponded with Ellen White up on the subject of the Holy Spirit. In his letter he said, elder Robinson does not wish me to leave, but urges that I entered the canvassing field until such time as the conference can afford to employ me in some other capacity, but states positively that I cannot be sent out to present truth to others until some points held by me are changed or modified in order that the views regarded by us as a people should be properly set forth. He quotes as a sample my idea in reference to the Holy Ghost not being the Spirit of God, which is Christ, but the angel Gabriel, and my belief that the 144,000 will be Jews who will acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. On all fundamental points, I am in perfect harmony with our people. But when I try to show what seems to me to be new light on the truth, those in authority, none of whom have seemingly ever made a personal investigation of the matter, refused to look into the Bible, but brand me as a fellow with queer ideas of the Bible.
In his remarks, brother Chapman refers to the Holy Spirit is to an individual being like the Father and the Son. He had come to understand that the Holy Spirit was to be identified as an angel rather than the Spirit of God, which is Christ. As a result of his views, elder Robinson states that for the benefit of the message, brother Chapman cannot be sent out into the field until his views come in line with those of the body the church, after receiving this letter, sister White responded to it firmly upholding what God himself has shown to be the truth on this subject. This response among many other statements by Ellen White and the pioneers of the Seventh Day Adventist faith, unequivocally demonstrate that the year 1898 could not have brought in a paradigm shift in the understanding of who God is, for if this were the case, God would have been contradicting himself regarding what he had already revealed in the past.
But in order to see that clearly presented, let us allow Ellen White to speak for herself by examining her response to brother Chapman. In her letter after encouraging brother Chapman to seek unity and oneness with his brethren, she writes, your ideas of the two subjects you mentioned do not harmonize with the light which God has given me. The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. It is not clearly revealed, and you will never be able to explain it to others, because the Lord has not revealed it to you. You may gather together scriptures and put your construction upon them but the application is not correct. The expositions by which you sustain your position are not sound, you may lead some to accept your explanations, but you do them no good, nor are they, through accepting your views enable to do others good.
What this statement tells us is that God himself had already given light upon the subject of the Holy Spirit. It also cautions us that there are things about the nature of the Holy Spirit, which are a mystery to us mortals. The same very statement is again used 20 years later in one of her final works Acts of the Apostles, in order to ensure that no erroneous conclusions with respect to the nature of the Spirit are ever brought forth, and upheld by God’s people.
In Acts of the Apostles, she writes: the nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on them. But the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church. Regarding such mysteries, which are too deep for human understanding, silence is golden.
If a paradigm shift had taken place in Ellen White’s understanding of who God is, after the year 1898, how could it be that she is still urging people not to enter into discussions upon the nature of the Holy Spirit, just as she did with brother Chapman. The remarks in Acts of the Apostles show that even by the year 1911, Ellen White was still holding on to that which was revealed to her by God Himself.
When it comes to mysteries, the Bible says, The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law, Deuteronomy 29:29. With this thought in mind, let us go back to Ellen White’s letter, she sent to brother Chapman, because in it, she shares what God has revealed regarding the Holy Spirit. There she wrote, Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, which the Father shall send in my name, I will pray the Father and He shall send you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever, even the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, but he know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ called the Comforter. Again, Jesus says, I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth.
Ellen White here so clearly explains the identity of the Spirit such as leaves no room for brother Chapman nor any of us today to misunderstand that which God has revealed. The Holy Spirit is neither an angel nor another individual being like the Father and the Son, but rather the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ. It is this very understanding that Ellen White continued to present to the world until the day she died.
One such statement is found in the Review and Herald of April 5 1906, where she penned the following words, Christ took human nature that men might be one with Him as He is one with the Father, that God may love man as He loves his only begotten Son, that man may be partakers of the divine nature, and be complete in Him. The Holy Spirit which proceeds from the only begotten Son of God brings the human agent, body, soul and spirit to the perfect divine human nature of Christ. This union is represented by the union of the vine and the branches. Finite man is united to the manhood of Christ. Through faith, human nature is assimilated with Christ’s nature, we are made one with God in Christ.
This is the very message we also find not only in the opening chapter of the Desire of Ages, but all throughout the book. On page 166 she states while Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He’s still by His Spirit, the minister of the church on earth. He’s withdrawn from the eye of sense, but His parting promise is fulfilled. Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. While He delegates His power to inferior ministers, His energizing presence is still with His church.
Friends, the entire Bible, as well as over 100,000 pages coming from the pen of inspiration present to us God as a heavenly Father. Not once does the Bible, nor any of the writings of Ellen White testify of one God in three co-eternal persons. Not once are we ever told that we’re going to meet a third individual being in heaven. On the contrary, we have been told over and over again, that our fellowship is to be with the Father, and with his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who are to come through the Holy Spirit of truth and make their abode with us.
In closing, let us refer to the parting words, written by Ellen White to brother Chapman, for they are just as needed today, as when they were written over a century ago. “I hope that you will seek to be in harmony with the body, I have been shown that you would not exert a saving influence in teaching the truth, because your mind is restless. And unless you drink deeper of the fountain of life, you will make the mistake that many others have made of thinking that you have new light, when it is only a new face of error. Now, my brother, it is truth that we want and must have but do not introduce error as new truth.”
Friends, Jesus is knocking on your heart, pleading with you to accept the truth and let go of the new face of error that many have embraced today. He’s pleading with you to be your comforter, so that you indeed can be made one with God in Christ. Will you respond to His invitation and let him in.